This is the third in a series of girl detective novels L. Frank Baum created featuring Mary Louise Burrows and her friend Josie O'Gorman. They appear fairly late in the book with the beginning given over to the sad story of Alora Jones. Her wealthy mother dies when she is 11, leaving Alora and her inheritance in the care of her ex-husband, who Alora had never met. He is sullen, secretive and unsupportive, and Alora is neglected for several years while her father forces her to live in seclusion with him in a remote Italian villa. Mary Louise meets Alora and her father while traveling with her grandfather in Italy. Befriending Alora, Mary Louise senses there is a mystery, and seeks to find out what is behind the strained relationship between Alora and her father.